Universal Pictures has shared a trailer and the first image from its forthcoming biopic of Aretha Franklin, Respect. The film will star Jennifer Hudson as the Queen of Soul, and is due for release in early 2021; the UK cinema date has been announced as 22 January.
The trailer was given its first airing during last night’s (28) 2020 BET Awards. Respect is directed by Liesl Tommy and written by Tracey Scott Wilson. Tommy is the South African-born, US-based, Tony Award-nominated theatrical director. The film’s producers are Scott Bernstein and Harvey Mason Jr.
In publicity for the film, the synopsis states: “Following the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom, Respect is the remarkable true story of the music icon’s journey to find her voice.”
Co-stars including Forest Whitaker, Mary J. Blige
The biopic will also star Forest Whitaker as Aretha’s father, the Reverend C.L. Franklin, and Marlon Wayans as her first husband and manager Ted White. It also features Audra Mcdonald, Marc Maron, Tituss Burgess, Saycon Sengbloh, Hailey Kilgore, Tate Donovan, Heather Headley and Skye Dakota Turner, many of whom were added to the cast in October 2019. One of the most successful modern-day soul stars to wear Aretha’s influence with pride, Mary J. Blige, will play the part of Dinah Washington.
Other real-life characters from Aretha’s life who will be portrayed in the film include the great A&R manager who signed her to Columbia, John Hammond, as well as her longtime friend Smokey Robinson, the great gospel singer Clara Ward and her sisters Erma and Carolyn.
Respect has long been in development, and Franklin herself was involved in the project before her death in August 2018. The film had earlier been scheduled for release in August 2020, which was then delayed until October during the coronavirus crisis, before its new scheduling.